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Bruce Wood, Choreographer-Dancer, Has Died at 53

Bruce Wood, the choreographer and dancer whose return to Dallas a few years ago resulted in the formation of one of the city’s best dance companies, has passed away unexpectedly at the age of 53. KERA reports that Wood’s death was a result of complications from pneumonia and heart failure.

In 2010, our dance critic Danna Wolfson wrote about Wood’s import to the North Texas dance community:

From 1996 to 2006 there were two full-time professional modern dance companies in North Texas: Dallas Black Dance Theater, based in Dallas, and The Bruce Wood Company in Fort Worth. Today, there is only one, Dallas Black Dance. Because it was a company located in North Texas, Bruce Wood Dance played a key roll in absorbing young talent as they graduated from North Texas’ university dance departments. Without this, the eco-system of local dance is damaged.

When Wood returned, however, he promised to revive his Bruce Wood Dance Company and the results were universally acclaimed. Writing about a 2013 performance of the Bruce Wood Company, Wolfson spoke about Wood’s ability to bring the totality of a performance under his control and careful eye:

Many choreographers, like writers, have a difficult time editing their own work even though it’s the most critical part of the process. They blast audiences with multiple complex movement phrases, enlist every choreographic devise they know, and over produce lights, costumes, props and scenery. But Wood seems more akin to a visual artist than a writer. You want to treat each scene of his one hour show as you would a canvas or installation in a gallery, to look at it again from a different angle, to hold it up for scrutiny, to let your mind wonder. You need to spend time getting into what it’s getting at.

Needless to say, the entire cultural community of Dallas is at a loss for Wood’s premature passing. He recently debuted a piece in honor of Dallas’ other dance luminary, Dallas Black Dance Theater’s Ann Williams, and was preparing for a June performance of his latest composition, Touch.

Here is the full release:

In Memoriam of Bruce Wood – 1961-2014

Esteemed choreographer, friend, and master teacher; Bruce Wood experienced complications from pneumonia and died of heart failure, with his family by his side, on Wednesday, May 28. His death was sudden and unexpected. He was 53.

Wood was a maker of dances that had tremendous impact on thousands of lives. As artistic director and sole choreographer of Bruce Wood Dance Company from 1996-2007 and Bruce Wood Dance Project from 2010 – current, the work lives on. The next BWDP performance carries-on at the Dallas City Performance Hall on June 12-13, 2014.

He is survived by his mother and two siblings. The family has asked that donations be made Bruce Wood Dance Project (www.brucewoodance.org) in lieu of flowers.

Media inquiries, please call 214-409-1143.

UPDATE: The Dallas Theater Center has released a statement regarding Bruce Wood:

Dallas Theater Center is deeply saddened by the tragic passing of Bruce Wood.  Our thoughts are with Mr. Wood’s family and friends.

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From Kevin Moriarty, Artistic Director – Dallas Theater Center:

“All of us at Dallas Theater Center are heartbroken by the news of Bruce Wood’s passing. Bruce was one of North Texas’ leading creative artists. The depth of emotion he brought to his choreographic work was matched by his immense technical skill and compositional brilliance. He was a great source of inspiration for audiences and artists alike and he elevated the artistic life of our community.

DTC audiences were greatly looking forward to Bruce’s debut at Dallas Theater Center next season, when he was scheduled to choreograph Colossal. Personally, I am devastated by this loss to our community and filled with deep sorrow that I will not be able to enter into a rehearsal room with Bruce to learn from him and be inspired by his intensity, passion, artistry and vision. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Bruce’s family and many friends in this time of mourning.”

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Dallas Theater Center previously announced a collaboration with Bruce Wood on next season’s production Colossal. Wood’s full-contact choreography would have been instrumental in bringing the story to life. DTC will announce new plans for this production at a later date.